Preview: Resident Evil 5 gameplay report

A surprise Resident Evil 5 demo blows us away!

The great outdoors

Outside, Chris was greeted by mayhem. Zombies swarmed from what seemed like every corner. He pulled out his shotgun and fired at a few baddies, causing them to propel backward. Oftentimes, a shotgun blast knocked one foe into another and caused them both to topple, like a morbid game of dominoes. As Chris dispatched the zombies, we noticed he was still being pursued by that giant axe-wielding maniac who, as we were told by the producers, couldn't be killed in this demo (though that may not hold true for the final game). But the giant often worked to Chris's advantage, as his massive axe swings cleaved right through nearby Las Plagas.

In the village, there were several small shed-like structures. Chris climbed on top of one to gain some temporary safety. This was a crucial error. The Las Plagas in Resident Evil 5 can climb, and as they piled onto the small rooftop, Chris was once again mobbed. Chris shot down some of the climbers, and they fell off to the ground below, sometimes breaking a table or other object on their way down. Chris hopped to another rooftop, but eventually ended up fighting from the ground again.


We were told that the complete village in the game is about four times larger than the village from RE4. But in the small sector we saw, it was easy for Chris to get trapped in a corner or otherwise overwhelmed. To break out of these tricky spots, Chris pulled out a sub-machinegun that was better for pegging multiple enemies. At one point, Chris took aim at an electrical transformer and shot it down. If planned right, it would have electrocuted a horde of zombies, but instead he shocked himself. And he tossed incendiary grenades to set zombies ablaze, though he repeatedly lit himself on fire, too.

No matter where Chris ran or hid, the Las Plagas would find him. Judging by the demo, there is simply no safe place to hide in Resident Evil 5. The Las Plagas can breach the safely of nearly any room, whether it has windows or not.

It was 20 minutes of terror, but an absolute delight to watch. Unfortunately we didn't get to see every detail, such as the new inventory screen or the on-screen interface. But we're told that these details will be unveiled at E3 next month.


Travis Moses thinks:

The live gameplay demo of Resident Evil 5 captured the attention of everyone in the room for a brief 20-minute sit down. The new trailer, which you can watch here, was shown first. Then we were presented with a real-time demo of a level that is similar to the first village in Resident Evil 4.

It was exciting to finally see live gameplay. Chris stood in the middle of a shanty house with his pistol drawn, and a machete and shotgun on his back. You can now see as Chris holsters and reaches for each gun. But it wasn't long before the Las Plagas infected zombies were banging at the door and windows. The glass shattered and the barricade splintered. Zombies came pouring in carrying axes, machetes, piping, and wrenches.

At least a dozen zombies filtered into the house, too many to stay and fight. If a zombie grabs hold of Chris, you must "break free" by mashing buttons. Suddenly, the wall behind Chris was obliterated and we turned to see a hulking, fat executioner lugging around a life-threatening axe-mace. There are mini-boss zombies in RE4, such as Dr. Salvador the chainsaw-wielding maniac, but this tub of lard eats takes the cake. He doesn't have a name yet, joked Takeuchi-san. We'll call the executioner Gond Annabon, which means strong elephant in middle-earth Elvish.

The headsman towers above the other fodder zombies, swiping his axe with abandon and taking out anything in his path. Fruit stands, awnings, and even other zombies don't stand a chance of withstanding a single blow from the executioner. Almost every object can be destroyed in Resident Evil 5, adding another level of intensity and strategy to the survival horror series.


Let the mutha burn

On a visual level, the fire effects in Resident Evil 5 are a striking feature. If you 're a fan of the incendiary grenades from RE4, you're going to pyro your pants when you see zombies light up in RE5. The same goes for the electricity effects. You can shoot telephone pole conductors, which fall to the ground and emit an electric-shock wave. Incendiary or electricity, either way you're going to end up with burnt zombie toast.

Any damage Chris takes is reflected on his character model. Blood builds up behind his ears and splotches his uniform if, say, the executioner's axe comes crashing down on Chris' head. This happened multiple times during the demo; getting away from the executioner was no easy task. Takeuchi-san reminded us that "god mode" was turned on, but that in the final game, a single blow from the executioner's axe will spell death for Chris, much like the chainsaw beheadings in RE4.

"There are lots of elements and enemies you haven't seen yet," teased Takeuchi-san when the demo concluded. There will be a "new in-game system announcement at E3," which I predict to be a co-op mode of sorts based on two things: Chris' new "partner" revealed at the end of the latest trailer and an online rumor-mill leak from a couple weeks ago. We're hoping for a cooperative play remix of RE4's Mercenaries mode, but we'll have to wait and see.

Aside from a few framerate issues and minor bugs, Resident Evil 5 was looking sharp. The team at Capcom also has plenty of time to polish the game before its release in "fiscal year 2008," which potentially means January or February 2009. The final version can't come soon enough for me: I can't wait to try out Chris' bulging biceps and uppercut some zombies.

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